Some say that student burnout is equated with college stress, UC Berkeley psychology professor Christina Maslach says that it’s actually much more serious than mere stress.
According to Maslach, burnout is “a combination of exhaustion, depression and negative feelings about oneself.” It can be like navigating a minefield when avoiding the pitfalls that can turn into burnout. However, these strategies that protect against burnout can also aid in making students find success in college, work and life.
When students are on top of their assignments and are well prepared for exams, they are less likely to experience burnout. Using helpful tools like planners and smartphone calendar apps will help you prioritize tasks and will keep you in staying organized and avoid procrastination. By breaking down long-term goals into smaller, more achievable benchmarks, it’s easier to avoid the stress of crunch time, which can build up to burnout.
Reasonable Goals and Courses
Stress can certainly blaze a path in the burnout direction. Being unrealistic about goals and your ability to meet them, piling on more courses than you can handle and having a social life that leaves little time for work is a bad combination. It’s important not only to avoid too many classes, but also to be sure that you have a mix of courses. Even a student passionately interested in psychology may find taking only psych courses too repetitive for appreciation of the nuances between child and adolescent psychology, for example. Likewise, setting too much unrealistic goals often leads the students to failure rather than persevering.
In addition to eating well and getting enough sleep, adding stress reducers to your routine aids in achieving the healthy balance that will help you avoid burnout. Exercise releases positive endorphins and aids in sleep, therefore reduces stress. Taking yoga or meditating, likewise, can be a calming, effective way to keep things in perspective.
Being constantly bombarded by social media and internet updates can add to overstimulation. Everyone needs a break from school life. It doesn’t just mean putting the books aside for a day off from studies. Disconnecting from social media is advised for students and workers alike. Managing Director Jim Link encourages his employees at Randstad to turn off mobile devices and social media when they head home for the night or on weekends.
Help Before Burnout
UC Berkeley counseling psychologist Rick Low says that burnout is often about imbalance. Signs of it include “fatigue, anxiety, loss of motivation, withdrawal from people, a sense of powerlessness and the feeling of being overwhelmed.” However, before students reach real burnout, they’re likely to suffer signs of stress, and that’s when they should get help. On-campus counseling centers are one resource, but students may also seek advice from friends, family and personal physicians for hints on how to handle stress.